Updated: Jul 6, 2020
My daughter is 3.5 years old. Fighting eczema with her has been taking a huge emotional toll on me. In addition to the "technicalities" of understanding eczema, searching for remedies, experimenting different creams and methods, tending to her pain on a daily basis, the emotion part was the part I neglected the most. I have benefited a lot from the sharing in different eczema groups, friends and families who care. Sometimes just simply knowing someone understands what I go through is enough. So I decided to share a recent experience of mine around coping with my daughter's eczema, hoping some of you can relate, find comfort and encouragement for your own journey.
The most stressful part for me was, and still is, preventing her from scratching. No matter how hard we try, the moment she scratches ("unforgivingly" - as her uncle once said), everything goes back to zero or worse. But the good intention of "saving" her gradually turned into "a challenge" - I must watch and catch and avoid her from scratching. And when I fail, I felt so helpless. So dealing with her eczema has made me feel constantly challenged and helpless...
...Until last night - My daughter had a huge meltdown, kicking and shouting at her little sister, at Daddy, at Mummy, repeatedly shouting "No No No, I don't want you Daddy, I don't want you Mummy, Stay away from me, I don't want anyone to stay with me." She sat there and scratched her arms vigorously, a scene that would trigger me to jump over and pull her hand away and help her "rub gently" so that the skin wouldn't break. But today she protested.
It took a while till I finally figured out she didn't want us because we kept preventing her from scratching herself. I asked "you don't want us because we stop you from scratching right?" she finally stopped shouting and nodded her head while still scratching as hard and as much as she could. I was lying down at a distance from her asking "so can I stay if I let you scratch?" she nodded her head. And we watched her scratch.. It was so painful. I told her "do you know when you feel pain, Mummy and Daddy also feel pain?" .. "You can scratch and when you need us, you tell us ok?"
After a few minutes scratching, my poor little girl who just kicked me and shouted at me asking me to go away, called out to me bursting into tears "Mummy, ouch..". I said in tears "I know.. Come here.." She crawled towards me and threw herself into my arm. So both of us cried. I tried to give some comfort to her arm which was oozing - the pus made her sleeve stick to her skin..
She stopped crying before me.
For the first time, I felt so much love and compassion for this little girl despite having washed, applied cream and tried to comfort her eczema countless times. For the first time in the last 9 months of battling her eczema, I cried so hard for her pain. I said "thank you dear for coming back to us"
It was a painful experience yet somehow beautiful too, to finally find back my love and compassion for my little daughter, versus feeling challenged and helpless.
My husband comforted us both as we were crying our heart out. I felt love and unity in this hard situation and felt so grateful that we are in this together.
After we calmed down, she finally agreed to wash her wounds. As I pulled up her sleeve, she said "I don't want Mummy to see" That broke my heart again. In pain, she still had so much compassion for me knowing I would feel more pain seeing her open wounds. I explained to her I needed to pull up the sleeve to be able to wipe.
That was the most painful eczema time ever, so many open wounds, but it was also the time that I felt most connected and present to share her pain and care for her with deep compassion. I love her so much, "none of this is yours. you will get new skin and it will be much better" I told her and I trust this phase is here to teach us something and it will be over soon. ❤🥺
If you are fighting it, I hope it will be over soon for you, too. And while we are at it, let's try our best to be in the healthiest emotional state to support our children.
p/s: picture was taken during a holiday, she was having a flare-up too, but that didn't prevent us from creating beautiful memories. Yes, there were sleepless nights during the holiday with scratching, oozing wounds and frustration. But when we talk about that holiday, all that stays is a great time together. It is a great reminder for me that amidst all the challenges, having eczema or not, we can still create beautiful moments together and make the overall experience a positive one. Easy to say, but knowing that it is possible is the first step. 💕